10 Nov 2021


Many, many years ago I used Evernote. It was fine, but I never loved it. Over the years Evernote lost its focus, trying to solve all kinds of problems no one asked them to solve. Then they started limiting and reducing functionality of their free tier. This was ultimately due to Evernote trying to bring in additional revenue. It was full of bloat and features I didn’t want. However, I put up with it because it was good enough, sync’d across devices well, and solved the issue of worrying about backups.

Then in 2015 I joined AWS. Amazon employees are not allowed to store any data (including notes taken during meetings) on anything other than their work machine and an Amazon-approved backup location (like Amazon WorkDocs). Evernote, which syncs to their cloud, had to go.

I needed a note-taking app that did not have any form of cloud sync, but would still allow me to back it up myself. That ruled out a lot of options, as the Apple AppStore is littered with apps that force iCloud backups, or have proprietary datastores. I decided my best bet was raw markdown files in a folder, as I could then control my own backups. After trying a lot of apps, I settled on Ulysses, as it allows you to disable their iCloud sync and just access regular OS folders with markdown files. All I have to do is put this markdown folder in my WorkDocs folder, and done: approved, automated backups. Shortly after buying Ulysses, they switched to a subscription. There are people on both sides of this argument. I’d personally rather just buy the app once, and then decide whether to upgrade. But I get it’s complicated for developers to ensure continued income. I just want basic note-taking. Ulysses has more functionality than I need. So if I ever find something good that doesn’t require a subscription, I’ll probably switch. But for now, it’s the best note app I’ve come across.

For a long time I’ve been trying to find something similar to Ulysses for Linux. Everything I found was far inferior to Ulysses, and most were electron-based, which made them slow and bloated. Then I randomly came across ThiefMD a couple of months ago. It isn’t quite a polished at Ulysses, but it’s really, really close, and it’s open source! I highly recommend it to any Linux user looking for a high quality native markdown app.